Friday 30 November 2007

Green power market grows

Port Macquarie News
Wednesday 28/11/2007 Page: 14

ANDY Colvin discovered green energy 30 years ago when he moved to Elands, 80km south-west of Port Macquarie, and found his house sat 2km from the electricity grid. Faced with a $20,000 bill to get hooked up to the power system, he chose to buy a secondhand wind turbine for $1500 and put it on his property. It survived for 12 years until a storm damage forced him to change to solar panels. Now the 61-year-old grandfather battles to get a day off from installing hydro, wind and solar power-generating equipment.

He expects demand to rise with the new Labor government after a sharp increase in trade for the past two years. "It's a mushrooming effect, that's the only way I can explain it," the solar engineer said. More people, such as local David Robertson, have cashed in on the former coalition government's $8000 rebate to pay for solar power. He also received $1500 from the Australian Government for installing 16 solar panels, which almost halved the cost of putting in $23,000 worth of panels.

Mr Robertson calculates he saves $1.50 a day, but he did not do it for financial reasons. He reckons it will take 15 years to get his money back. "I believe in saving the world one step at a time," the information technology worker said. Mr Colvin said people could use back-up generators. Or use batteries, which are 40 times more powerful than a car battery, as a backup system when there are three or four cloudy days in a row.

Google powers windfall

Newcastle Herald
Thursday 29/11/2007 Page: 25

SAN FRANCISCO: US technology giant Google is expanding into alternative energy in its most ambitious effort yet to ease the environmental strain caused by the company's voracious appetite for power to run its massive computing centres. The internet search leader and its philanthropic arm will pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a quest to lower the cost of producing electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and the sun. If Google realises its goal, the cost of solar power should fall by 25 to 50 per cent, co-founder Larry Page has said. Google's move comes amid mounting concern that pollution from fossil fuels power generation is causing catastrophic climate change.

Power station plans shelved

Thursday 29/11/2007 Page: 6

PLANS for new coal-fired power stations have been shelved until at least 2020, when technology to capture and store greenhouse emissions may be available. In the wake of Kevin Rudd's emphatic victory, generators said yesterday it was now too risky to consider building a coal-fired power station unless its emissions could be significantly reduced when faced with Labor's commitment to make cuts of 60 per cent by 2050. The National Generators Forum, representing the 22 main utilities, expects rising demand for electricity until 2020 to be supplied mainly by new gas-fired power stations and wind farms.

Electricity prices are certain to rise as gas releases about half the greenhouse emissions of coal but is close to 20 per cent more expensive. Wind-generated power is about double the cost. NGF executive director John Boshier said Labor's 20 per cent Mandatory Renewable Energy Target by 2020 would supply about 45,000 gigawatt hours, or half of new generation capacity.

Technology to capture and store emissions from coal and gas-tired power stations is under development, but not expected to be commercialised until 2020. "Unless a new coal-fired power station was capture-ready, it would be unlikely to be built in the present environment and I think investors would look at it as too risky," Mr Boshier said. "Coal-fired power stations will keep going until the end of their economic life, but what that means is to achieve big cuts in emissions new power stations have to be low-emission. And, so, building new coal-fired power stations doesn't help to achieve that target." One big coal and gas generator, TRUEnergy, has committed not to build any new coal-fired power stations.

State governments are increasingly looking to the private sector for new investment in electricity generation, with growing speculation that the Queensland and NSW governments are considering privatising utilities. The Queensland Government sold off state-owned electricity retailers late last year, and the NSW Government is expected to announce the future of its generators and retailers at the end of this year. The pessimistic view of generators is not shared by the main coal-mining union, which says investment in coal-fired power depends on the details of climate change policies to be unveiled next year.

Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union general president Tony Maher said governments or the private sector would build new coal-fired power stations if they were guaranteed a share of the expanding energy market. "It's only a matter of taking a bit more risk," he said. "The private sector will build it if there is a guaranteed market share."

Thursday 29 November 2007

Red-hot Australia just the spot for solar energy projects

Thursday 29/11/2007 Page: 5

AUSTRALIA gleams a bright red in a map that paints a vibrant picture of how solar energy reaches different parts of the world. America's space agency, NASA, has pinpointed the world's sunniest spots by studying maps compiled by US and European satellites. Red shows the regions that receive the most sun, such as the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Sahara Desert in Niger, followed by orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and pink.

One sun-baked desert landmark in south-east Niger got a searing average of 6.78 kilowatt hours of solar energy per square metre per day from 1983-2005, roughly the amount of electricity used by a typical US home in a day to heat water. The maps have already been used to help businesses site solar panels in Morocco, or send text messages to tell sunbathers in Italy to put on more sunscreen. The maps could also help guide billions of dollars in solar investments for a world worried by climate change.

University of New South Wales renewable energy expert Dr Mark Diesendorf said maps such as this not only helped companies interested in building solar power stations but illustrated the energy possibilities of the sun. 'Australia has got lots of solar energy potential, and it's not doing enough to tap into that." Dr Wes Stein, manager of the CSIRO's National Solar Energy Centre, said a 2001 study showed Australia had the highest average solar radiation of any continent.

"We are a very good country to do solar energy projects." The CSIRO hopes to start its own project, incorporating satellite data, to model in detail the spread of solar radiation across the country. "That would give us a very good idea of solar power available in Australia," Dr Stein said.

Global sunny spots hide energy bonanza

Adelaide Advertiser
Thursday 29/11/2007 Page: 21

THE Gold Coast is sunny, so is the French Riviera, but NASA says the middle of the Pacific Ocean and the Sahara Desert are the sunniest spots - and the information could be worth money. America's space exploration agency has located the world's most sun-drenched spots by studying maps compiled by U.S. and European satellites.

The maps can also gauge solar energy at every other spot on the planet and have already been used to help businesses to site solar panels in Morocco, for instance, or send text messages to tell sunbathers in Italy to put on more cream. "We are trying to link up observations of the earth to benefit society," 72-nation Group on Earth Observations head Jose Achache said. The group, of which Australia is a member, seeks practical spinoffs from scientific data, ranging from deep-ocean probes to satellites.

GEO members will hold ministerial talks on Friday in Cape Town to review a 10-year project launched in 2005 which aims to join up the dots between research in areas such as climate change, health, agriculture and energy. From satellite data collected over 22 years, NASA says the sun blazes down most fiercely on a patch of the Pacific Ocean on the equator south of Hawaii and east of Kiribati.

More practically for solar generation, on land the Sahara Desert region soaks up most energy with the very sunniest spot in southeast Niger, where one sun-baked landmark amid sand dunes is a ruined fort at Agadem. "For some reason there are fewer clouds just there than elsewhere (in the Sahara)," NASA's Langley research centre senior scientist Paul Stackhouse said.

The area got a searing average of 6.78 kilowatt hours of solar energy per sq in per day from 1983-2005 - roughly the electricity used by a typical U.S. home in a day to heat water. The patch in the Pacific got 6.92 kilowatt hours. The maps could help guide billions of dollars in solar investments for a world worried by climate change, widely blamed on burning fossil fuels that could mean more floods, droughts, heatwaves and rising seas. Satellite pictures could also help place offshore wind farms - wind speeds can be inferred from wave heights and direction. Farmers might also be able to pick new crops, or estimate fertiliser demand, by knowing more about how much solar energy is reaching their land.

Vestas may re-open in five years time

Portland Observer
Wednesday 21/11/2007 Page: 3

A FORMER production manager at the soon to be closed Vestas blade factory in Portland predicts the company may re-open in the city within the next five years. John Herbertson praised the company, saying it was a great employer and had provided the 130 workers in Portland with highly valued skills. He described the recent details from Pacific Hydro that the renewable energy sector was looking at Portland as a possible site for a centre of excellence to train and upgrade the skills of professionals as heartening. "Some of the guys have already left and are being picked up by companies such as Boeing in Melbourne, others are hoping to pick up work at Keppel Prince," he said.

Vestas will close its Portland facility on December 19 - a little more than two years since first opening. It announced the pending closure in late August, citing the investment in keeping the plant open was not worthwhile in the then Australian market. The Federal Government's refusal to increase its Mandatory Renewable Energy Target past two per cent, and changes in wind farm market needs in Australia were given as reasons for closure.

Mr Herbertson said that as an employee he would have hoped Vestas had held off making a decision until after the Federal election result was known. "However, Vestas gave four months notice to its workforce. .. in Melbourne, you are lucky if you get one day with some employers," he said. "It also gave workers two and a half times the minimum it was required to for redundancy packages, plus financial counselling and visits from employment agencies."

Mount Oxley wind farm

Western Herald
Thursday 22/11/2007 Page: 3

Plans for a wind farm on top of Mount Oxley are still progressing, although slower than anticipated. Babcock and Brown, the company behind the $30 million wind farm, say negotiations over the possible impacts on telecommunications equipment on the mountain has taken longer than expected, due to the number of different stakeholders involved. Now that these negotiations have been completed, the company are ready to undertake an environmental impact study. The proposed seven turbine wind farm should be able to generate more than enough electricity to power Bourke.

Hot-rock lobbying group in Adelaide

Adelaide Advertiser
Wednesday 28/11/2007 Page: 54

A NEW lobby group representing the geothermal energy industry has been established in Adelaide. The Australian Geothermal Energy Association (AGEA) will hold its inaugural annual meeting in December, when it will determine the key policy issues it will take to the federal and state governments.

Petratherm managing director Terry Kallis said the industry had developed greatly in the past few years, and the 29 firms which made up the sector now needed a separate voice to other renewable energy producers. "There was a clear requirement coming from the developers to have a policy voice," Mr Kallis said. "At the AGM we'll pick the top three or four issues common to the industry and start working through those." Mr Kallis said the new Federal Labor Government's goal to increase renewable energy use to 20 per cent by 2020 was a boon to the industry.

"The geothermal industry has the potential to be the lowest-cost renewable in that market and it's bigger than what was being proposed by the former government," Mr Kallis said. "In that timeframe Labor policy is clearly no nuclear energy stations, so there isn't any other form that I'm aware of that would provide base load apart from geothermal." Mr Kallis said he expected strong investment in the sector to continue.

"It's still early days, we're still yet to discover where some of the best plays are." Mr Kallis said Geoscience Australia, the federal geoscience information organisation, had been given a significant amount of money to look at providing information on Australia's subterranean heat flow, which would be provided to developers.

Former Renewable Energy Generators Australia chief executive Susan Jeanes is interim secretary, and Geodynamics managing director Gerry Grove-White is interim chairman of the AGEA.

Clean Energy Council Conference and Exhibition 2008
Tue, Nov 27, 07

Through the vision of the renewable energy industry's leading companies, the Australian wind energy Association (Auswind) and the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) amalgamated in September 2007 to form one new united entity the Clean Energy Council, Australia's new peak body for the renewable energy, energy efficiency and low greenhouse gas emission generation industry.

Coinciding with the new name and brand mark for the Clean Energy Council will be a change to the traditional national conferences previously run by Auswind & BSCE. We are pleased to announce that the Clean Energy Council will host one major national conference and exhibition in 2008 - Clean Energy Council Conference & Exhibition 2008.

The 2008 event will combine the successes of the previous individual conferences and build on achievements to date. The merger of the two events will not dilute the quality of previous events but bring them together under the one roof with the aim of building and strengthening the quality, opportunities and attendance in 2008. This relates to program content, quality of speakers as well as sponsors and exhibitors.

The Council speaks on behalf of over 410 businesses, many billions of dollars of invested assets – covering the entire technology portfolio of emerging and mature technologies. We encourage all member companies and related stakeholders to support and participate in the inaugural Clean Energy Council Conference & Exhibition to assist the Council in establishing its national conference as the premier renewable energy event in Australia.

The Clean Energy Council Conference & Exhibition will be held at the latter end of 2008 (dates and venue details will be released in the coming weeks). Our new logo will feature on all related promotional material which will immediately assist members and stakeholders to identify the peak industry association's national event.

The Clean Energy Council Conference & Exhibition is organised by industry for industry and we look forward to your support of this event.

If you have any queries or would like express interest in participation in the 2008 event please contact Jacqui Stuart, Manager – Events via or +61 3 9670 2033.

Wind farm discussions

Ballarat Courier
Tuesday 27/11/2007 Page: 7

MOST of the wind farms planned for Central Victoria fall outside the limits of the City of Ballarat Council. But the explosion in turbine numbers planned for the area could have an affect on the municipality. To look at the benefits and implications for Ballarat, city councillors will consider wind farms at a regular meeting to be held from tomorrow night. A report to go before the council looks at the number of wind farms planned for within and outside the council's boundaries and the planning considerations that should be taken into account. The economic and environmental impacts and benefits are also discussed.

In the report, author and council's general manager of city sustainability Ian Rossiter said Central Victoria was a desirable region for wind farms, which needed strong and steady winds, good roads and access to the electricity grid. Several major wind farms have been mooted for the region, including at Waubra, Lal Lal and Mt Mercer. Most fall in the Pyrenees Shire, Golden Plains Shire and Moorabool Shire, although about one third of the Waubra wind farm's 128 turbines would be located within the City of Ballarat Council area.

In the report, Mr Rossiter said although most turbines would be built outside Ballarat, there were still considerations for the city, including the impact on roads during construction, landscape impacts from within the Ballarat council and the potential economic impact on the city and its reputation as a sustainable community. "Ballarat and its surrounding region is well positioned to become a leader in acceptance of renewable energy, water conservation and protection of its natural environment," the report said.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

Wind farm community consult: Silverton area the preferred site

Barrier Miner
22/11/2007 Page: 1

Epuron Pty Ltd is holding an open house next Wednesday at the Silverton Municipal Hall allowing concerned residents and community members the chance to express their concerns and view a photo montage of what the farm will look like.

Since Silverton was named as a possible site for the wind farm, there has been support and backlash and Epuron Pty Ltd officials would like to meet with people to talk about the effects on the environment, employment and the impact the turbines will have on the view of Mundi Mundi Plains.

Epuron Pty Ltd has been monitoring sites around NSW for a proposed wind farm and Silverton seems to be the best site. "The good wind resource, the space available, the low population density of the area and the potential to connect to the high voltage power lines in Broken Hill are the factors which led to the site selection. We have looked at other sites like Cobar, Armidale and Bourke but it is not easy to find strong winds and accessible power; we have found that here in Silverton," Epuron Pty Ltd executive director Andrew Durran said. If agreed upon, the development will be carried out in stages.

The first stage involves the southern end of the ranges and could see up to 150 turbines constructed. Subsequent stages may see up to 500 wind turbines operating in the area. After the open house Epuron Pty Ltd expects to finalise its plans and lodge the development application with the NSW Government in May 2008, with construction likely to commence in late 2009. Epuron Pty Ltd has distributed surveys and people are welcome to bring them along to Silverton Municipal Hall, Wednesday November 28 from 2-7 pin for the consultation.

The challenge: to go from climate laggard to climate leader

Tuesday 27/11/2007 Page: 11

Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is just the first step to finding solutions. Dr Peter Christoff

LABOR'S exceptional victory is built on its core promises, and tackling climate change is one of them. Kevin Rudd has promised that one of his first acts in government will be to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. This will come as a welcome relief to most Australians. We have been suffering from deferred ratification for a long time, and the move is 10 years overdue.

However, while in the conservative context of Australian climate politics ratification may seem like one giant leap for Australians, it is now only a modest step for mankind (and other species).

The annual meeting of parties of the UN Climate Change Convention begins in Bali next Monday. For the first time in a decade, Australia - with its delegation led by our prime minister - will sit as a credible participant in debates over the Earth's climate future. What positions and targets will we support? The only serious proposition on the table at Bali comes from the European Union. The EU has proposed a target for developed countries to cut their collective emissions by 30% below 1990 levels by 2020.

Although this target is conservative, it is still well beyond what has been acceptable in Australia to date. How will we respond? In the leaders' debate. late in October, Rudd stood by Labor's long-term goal of cutting Australia's emissions by 60% (against 2000 levels) by 2050 because "it comes from the science" that tells us to stabilise atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 to 490 parts per million. Scientists agree that 450 ppm is the critical threshold for keeping the average global temperature increase below 2 degrees and avoiding dangerous climate change.

The clear message of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report - reinforced by the accelerating loss of our polar caps - is that global emissions must peak by 2015 and then be cut by between 50% and 85% by 2050 to contain temperature increases at 2 to 2.4 degrees.

But to create the necessary "emissions space" for countries such as China and India to develop, larger and earlier reductions are required from industrialised countries (including Australia) - reductions in the order of 80 to 95% by 2050 at the latest. All this casts the EU's proposition and Labor's long-termemissions target in a new light. Labor's 2050 target promises unacceptable temperature increases of 3 degrees - climate catastrophe, according to the IPCC. Even a temperature rise of 2 degrees would condemn the Great Barrier Reef to extinction. Clearly Labor must deliver cuts much deeper and faster than its long-term target suggests.

A second possible issue for Rudd is his rejection of a climate deal without "clear-cut commitments" from developing countries. It is unclear what this might mean. There is absolutely no support for a deal that includes mandatory emissions reduction targets for China, India or Brazil among any of the groups at Bali - except the United States. There are no "commitments" on the table.

Everyone agrees, for instance, that China's emissions pose a problem (while overlooking how a significant proportion of Chinese emissions come from manufacturing goods exported to Western consumers). Nevertheless, there is no serious plan to woo these emitters to adopt even voluntary targets, despite the urgency of doing so.

There are ways around these impasses, and opportunities for Australia to - at last - show real international climate leadership. First, the Australian delegation must at minimum support the EU's proposed target of minus 30% by 2020. That position best reflects what the science is telling us. Second, because there will be no agreement that includes targets for developing countries, Rudd should propose a subtler and more creative alternative.

The major emerging emitters - especially China - are aware of and anxious about the domestic impacts of global warming, to which they increasingly contribute. But they are compelled toraise their low standards of living. To escape this dilemma, they require massive financial and technological assistance to help them meet blossoming energy needs without emissions then spinning out of control.

Australia could propose the establishment of a substantial global fund (perhaps based on carbon taxes on imported goods) to assist them. This would be a real step forward - unlike the cosmetic, underfunded and targetless Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate strongly promoted by John Howard. An international fund for investment in renewable energy and efficiency measures in China, India and Brazil would offer an incentive and means for action. Its development would make strong voluntary targets by these emergent emitters much more likely in the future.

Finally, our prime minister could use Bali to propose a regional climate pact under the umbrella of the Kyoto regime. Including developed countries (Australia, New Zealand) and developing states (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and near Pacific states), it would cover about 12% of the planet's greenhouse emissions. Properly funded, and possibly with a strong collective target, it would strengthen regional environmental security and economic relations while tackling the significant emerging local problems of climate mitigation and adaptation.

When it comes to tackling global warming, leadership over the next 12 months is critical. Kevin Rudd, now is the time for Australia to lead a "climate revolution" overseas as well as at home.

Dr Peter Christoff teaches climate policy at the University of Melbourne and is vice-president of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

Climate of opinion chides nay-sayers

Tuesday 27/11/2007 Page: 10

Renewable energy sources for power are already in use, writes Dr Barrie Pittock.

IT WAS perhaps instructive to have Alan Moran's article alongside mine (Business- Day, 20/11) and Des Moore's predictably critical letter (BusinessDay, 22/11). Basically Moore, a nonscientist, continues to deny the science underlying the concern regarding climate change. This is despite the overwhelming authority of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, whose authors were chosen from people designated as experts by member governments of IPCC, including Australia and the US.

Moore puts forward four arguments, all of which are well known to the authors of the IPCC reports, who are neither fools nor dishonest.
  1. The "saturation" effect that as carbon dioxide concentrations increase their incremental effect decreases. This is well known, but is only significant at concentrations well above three times pre-industrial levels. It is negligible at present concentrations, and is, of course, taken into account in climate models.
  2. Water vapour concentrations in the atmosphere are increasing. Of course they are. They respond to the global average surface temperature, which is increasing. The added water vapour in fact is one of the main amplifiers of the man-made effect. Increased carbon dioxide
  3. Arctic sea ice was even less than now in some previous paleo-climatic periods. Then the Earth was about 2-3 degrees warmer than pre-industrial, and global sea level was several metres higher than now. This was accompanied by higher concentrations of greenhouse gases, and is ominous, since this suggests that warming to date may well lead to further sea level rise.
  4. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's remarks re effects in Antarctica. Depending on whether his reported remarks have been taken out of context, it may be a slight exaggeration. The clear evidence is that warming has occurred very rapidly on the more northerly Antarctic Peninsula, with rapid break-up of some floating ice shelves and resultant increases in outflow from outlet glaciers. The fear is that this portends developments in mainland Antarctica. So far it does not show such changes, although satellite data suggests it is losing a small amount of iceleads to warmer water, which increases water vapour, which means more heating and thus even warmer water.
Moran's article listed some of the small and inadequate steps being taken now to reduce greenhouse emissions, but failed completely to take account of:
  • The co-benefits of substantial action on climate change in terms of reductions in other pollution and provision of regional employment.
  • The massive subsidies at present provided to fossil fuelsbased industries, ranging from oil exploration tax write-offs to subsidised electricity for energyintensive industries such as aluminium.
  • Moran appealed for nuclear energy as the only "known means" of large reductions in emissions, which is nonsense. Large wind farms and solar energy stations with energy storage are not only feasible for baseline power but are already in use.
Moran takes a completely unrealistic view of the huge potential of renewable energy. Finally, Moran refers to the "true believers in environmental catastrophe", as if this somehow invalidates the report of the IPCC.

Dr Barrie Pittock is author of Climate Change: Turning Up the Heat, and former leader, CSIRO climate impact group.

Hybrid battery plan

Tuesday 27/11/2007 Page: 6

THE CSIRO will help develop a hybrid battery able to store electricity from renewable sources. With a venture capital company, Cleantech Ventures, the CSIRO will join a new outfit, Smart Storage, to work on a low-cost battery capable of high-performance stationary energy sto rage. The CSIRO says current batteries capable of storing energy from solar and wind energy are expensive and unable to meet high power demands. "The Smart Storage technology is based on CSIRO's Ultrabattery, which has been successfully trialled in hybrid vehicles," a CSIRO director, John Wright, said. The battery will be 50% more powerful and last three times longer than the conventional ones.

Smart Storage: CSIRO sets up battery firm

Adelaide Advertiser
Tuesday 27/11/2007 Page: 10

CSIRO will help develop a hybrid battery which can store electricity from renewable energy sources. The government science agency and venture capital company Cleantech Ventures will be joint partners in Smart Storage. The new company aims to develop existing technology to deliver a low cost battery capable of high performance stationary energy storage. CSIRO says current batteries capable of storing energy from solar and wind energy are expensive and unable to meet high power demands.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

The votes were cast, the decision is in, now to catch up on lost time....

Australians have voted to reject the politics of denialism on climate change and have unequivocally demanded we join those nations who want their energy future centred around renewable technologies. Hopefully now, universities, scientists and businesses, small and large, will work together for mutual benefit to make this country a leader once more in clean, renewable energy.

Australians will then be able to join with those other nations who have demonstrated foresight and a willingness to tackle one of the greatest challenges to face the human race and all life as we know it on this planet.

For the first time in the history of this world we have the power to directly affect our future, we can choose to ignore the warnings science and nature are providing, or, we can actively work towards minimising our mark on the planet, securing a future for ourselves and those who will inherit our world.

Windfarm progress

South Eastern Times
22/11/2007 Page: 7

THE second stage of Babcock and Brown's Lake Bonney Wind Farm of 53 turbines has been completed several months ahead of schedule. Construction team CATCON and other contractors began work along the WoakWine Range midway through last year.

As part of their contract, CATCON had to build access roads to each site as well as a hard stand area to support the cranes which would lift the 80 metre towers, 45 metre blades and nacelles (generators) into place. The erection project was due for completion in February. The first operational stage of Babcock and Brown's Lake Bonney has 46 smaller turbines, while the nearby Canunda Windfarm has 23 turbines, and is run by a separate company International Power. When combined, the 122 windfarms along the range make the project the largest in Australia.

In other windfarm news, the turbines have not been operational for more than a week with a rumoured cost of $100,000 per day. It is understood the temporary suspension may be related to recent work at the Snuggery sub-station. Power generated by the WoakWine Range windfarms is channelled into the national grid via the Snuggery sub-station. There has been a significant amount of upgrading work at this facility over recent months as part of a new high voltage overhead cable link with the Mingbool substation.

Sun rises on good solar news

Canberra City News
22/11/2007 Page: 6

SOLAR technology is clean. It creates no pollution, produces no greenhouse gases, and uses no finite fossil fuels resources. But a solar power system can cost anywhere between $15,060 and upwards of $22,000. Australian States' willingness to consider a feed-in tariff is good news for Australians, the changing climate, and the renewable technology industry. A feed-in tariff is a premium, paid to you. With a grid-connected system, it means that you get paid for the electricity generated by the solar panels on your house. The electricity is fed in to the power grid and used by the community.

SA was the first State to introduce a feed-in tariff. Victoria and Queensland have also made a commitment to the idea, and the ACT is the newest State to begin the development of such a scheme. Although the idea was first introduced in the US in 1978, it was only in the 1990s that the idea caught on. Europe embraced the philosophy with Denmark, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Greece all introducing policies, while the US phased its out.

India, China, and Brazil have more recently jumped on board so that feed-in tariffs now exist in more than 40 countries, states or provinces around the world. Though regulations the premium paid vary, all involve the payment of a premium for this renewable energy. Member for Brindabella Mick Gentleman this month presented his Private Member's Bill "The Solar Premium" as an exposure draft to the Legislative Assembly. Criticism of the feed-in proposal is that electricity consumers not the Government will incur the costs.

ACTCOSS has been consulted on the drafting of the Bill, and costs will be based on individual consumer use, rather than a flat rate. This will have the added advantage of promoting and rewarding low electricity use. One area where most agree is the tariff paid for your electricity. A rate of four times the market rate is recommended the Alternative Technology Association and Moreland Energy Foundation, to enable the premium, so long as it is paid for long enough, to recoup the cost of installing a system.

Mr Gentleman said: "I want the community to know that a great deal of thought has gone into this to ensure it achieves the greatest benefit to the environment and the community without putting unnecessary financial pressure on those that can least afford it." Mr Gentleman's office is receiving calls from business becoming aware that they can be involved in the scheme.

Local installation companies are currently heavily backlogged, so supply will outstrip demand for some time. With this is mind, current planning foresees 1MW of solar power being installed in ACT each year for the first few years.

New optimism on $500m CH project: Wind Farm Bonanza

Burnie Advocate
26/11/2007 Page: 1

LABOR'S election win is set to deliver a $500 million North-West wind farm project on top of the party's $95 million worth of promises for the region. Labor has vowed to restore rail between Burnie and Circular Head, provide a $12 million manufacturing centre and make significant strides in health care, as well as improve West Coast rail. Its 20 per cent by 2020 renewable energy target is set to reignite the wind farm industry which stalled under the Howard Government.

Brothers John, Keith and Chauncey Hammond are working towards half-a-billion dollars' worth of wind farm projects at Circular Head - projects which were feared dead after the Coalition went soft on renewable energy in 2004. If they went ahead, the wind farms on Robbins Is and at Jims Plain would be similar in size to Hydro Tasmania's massive Woolnorth wind farms, John Hammond said yesterday. "We feel a lot more optimism. We've been actively doing some background work; it certainly is very much a positive direction." They had done two years of environmental surveys when the Howard Government decided not to increase the energy target in 2004. "That put us on hold."

New Labor Braddon MHR Sid Sidebottom said: "They are very enthusiastic about our policy and we are very enthusiastic about their plans." He said the 2004 Howard decision cost the North-West the Vestas wind farm component plant and 65 jobs at Wynyard. He was now hopeful of more major projects and developments in the renewables field, saying it would tie in with Labor's plan for a $12 million manufacturing centre. "It will depend on commercial decisions. .. at least the investment climate and renewable energy climate will be amenable."

Labor's key North-West and West Coast commitments include:
  • $30 million to re-start rail between Burnie and Wiltshire, in Circular Head, helping local industry and cutting truck movements;
  • $11.7 million for extending rail between Zeehan and Melba Flats, helping mining companies and cutting truck movements;
  • $5 million for a GP super clinic in Devonport and $2.5 million for a GP after hours clinic in Burnie, taking pressure off hospitals;
  • $7.7 million for a cancer treatment unit, likely to be in Burnie;
  • $10 million for better patient transport, with a North-West focus;
  • $3 million for Burnie waterfront improvements;
  • $2 million for Ulverstone wharf and showground redevelopment; and
  • $2.5 million for work at the Mersey Bluff.
Mr Sidebottom said he could not give time frames on the projects yet, but Labor had made the commitments and it was his job to start the process of delivering them.